Ay Que Rico!

Comida en La Cuidad

So as some of you may already know we were in Mexico City for a few days over the past week/weekend. It was my Opa’s (grandfather) 90th Birthday Party. What an honor to be able to celebrate such an occasion. My entire family was there and we had a blast. It was Carl’s first time in the city so we showed him around, partied til 4am and suffered through the altitude and pollution. Much to my surprise, since it is such a meat based culture, we ate really well.  Also interestingly enough, the meat eating in my family is at a rapid decline. My parents and aunt don’t eat red meat at all and never really have. My brother, sister-in-law and cousin eat only fish. We are still the most strict in the family, especially adding the gluten-free element. All in all, it was so exciting when we outnumbered the meat eaters at the dinner table.

After waking up we’d go upstairs where my aunt, uncle and cousin live. Breakfast was eaten together, such a great tradition, and consisted of fresh fruit, burgen muesli, fresh corn and cactus tortillas, salsas and beans. This meal could not be skimped on since lunch in Mexico doesn’t happen until about 3 or 4 in the afternoon!

Such late eating was certainly a shock to our systems since we’re used to eating every few hours in our normal routines. Needless to say, by the time lunch came around we were starved and extra psyched when we found some great vegan options. My favorite lunch was at a restaurant called Saks (no not the department store) in an area called San Angel. We went there to walk around the Bazaar Sabado where we found some local art and this awesome sound making bamboo contraption that we dragged back to LA with us. Anyway, at Saks they made fresh blue corn tortillas with various veg fillings: champiñones, flor de calabaza, espinacas and papa (mushrooms, squash blossoms, spinach and potato). They were served with slices of fresh avocado and several salsas. We ordered a fresh squeezed juice blend of greens and fruits and a spinach salad with balsamic reduction topped with pecans. My stomach is grumbling just thinking about it.

We ate a few dinners out and a few at my aunts accommodating the rotating guests. On Friday, once the last of the family had arrived, we had something called a taquiza.  Basically the Mexican version of a BBQ that serves up tacos on the grill instead of burgers. There were some of the usual suspects as mentioned above, flor de calabaza, rajas con elote, etc. But there was this salad, and let me tell you this is no ordinary salad. It’s a mango enchilada salad with nuts.

In all, we had a blast, ate some great vegan meals, showed Carl La Cuidad and even partied at one of the hottest spots in the City called Joy Room. I’d say it was a success and such a special occasion for everyone to come together. If you want to make some of the food we ate check out the recipes below.

Birger Muesli: See article

Flor de Calabaza:
1 1/4 lbs. Squash Flowers, cleaned and roughly chopped
2 tbsp. vegetable oil or unsalted earth balance
3 tbsp. finely chopped white onion
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
Sea salt to taste
2 poblano chilies, charred, peeled, and cut into strips
1 tbsp. roughly chopped epazote

Rinse and briefly shake excess water off the flowers. Remove stringy green sepals around the base of each flower. If the flowers are large leave about a half inch of the stalk on. Roughly chop the flowers, calyx and stamen included.

Prepare chiles by placing over open flame , turning them from time to time until skin is blistered and lightly charred. Place them inside a plastic bag and set aside to steam for 10 about minutes; this process will loosen the skin. Then remove the skin by running your hands or a spoon down the chile. Cut into vertical strips.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat, add the onion garlic, and a little salt, and fry gently without browning until translucent, about 1 minute. Add the chili strips and cook stirring from time to time, for another two minutes.

Add the flowers and salt to taste, cover the pan, and cook over low heat until the round calyx is tender, not soft, about 10 minutes. Add epazote after 5 minutes.

Place some flor de calabaza in a warm corn tortilla (best to heat on an open flame on the stove) add in some fresh avocado and your favorite salsa. Doesn’t get much better than this. The Masa Assasin

Easy Vegan Refried Beans: (a lot of these are made with bacon or lard so watch out!)
1 cup dried black (turtle) or pinto beans
2 tbsp earth balance or vegetable oil
2-3 stalks celery, chopped finely
half a small onion, minced
4-5 cloves garlic
dashes of salt, thyme, marjoram, dried parsley flakes, crushed hot pepper, and chili powder

Prepare the beans: Inspect them for stones and dirt, rinse, soak overnight and then rinse again. Cook them in a saucepan until done. Mash them. Cook the celery, onion, and garlic in the earth balance for a few minutes. Add the spices and cook for 5 minutes. Add the beans and 2 cups water. Cook uncovered until the water reduces. Add 2 cups water, and reduce again. Boutell

Mango Enchilada Salad: (see our article on why Mangos are such a healthy fruit)
1/2 lb mangos enchiladas
2 cups vinagrette dressing
cashews, candied walnuts or peanuts

Blend the mangos enchiladas (set aside 1 or 2 pieces to chop up into the salad) with a simple vinagrette, they used provence. You’ll end up with a something that resembles a french dressing but nowhere near to that in flavor.

Toss the dressing in with the lettuce of your choice, cashews, candied walnuts, chopped up pieces of mangos enchiladas and whatever else floats your boat. Your taste buds are in for a wild ride and we couldn’t get enough. Aside from that there were 5 types of salsa, ranging in heat, mexican rice and beans.

Salsa Verde:
1 1/2 lb tomatillos
1/2 cup chopped white onion
1/2 cup cilantro leaves
1 Tbsp fresh lime juice
1/4 teaspoon sugar
2 Jalapeño peppers OR 2 serrano peppers, stemmed, seeded and chopped
Salt to taste

To cook the tomatillos, you can either roast them in the oven, or boil them. Roasting will deliver more flavor; boiling may be faster and use less energy. Either way works, though boiling is a more common way to cook the tomatillos.

Remove papery husks from tomatillos and rinse well.

Roasting method: Cut in half and place cut side down on a foil-lined baking sheet. Place under a broiler for about 5-7 minutes to lightly blacken the skin.

Boiling method: Place tomatillos in a saucepan, cover with water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove tomatillos with a slotted spoon.

Place tomatillos, lime juice, onions, cilantro, chili peppers, sugar in a food processor (or blender) and pulse until all ingredients are finely chopped and mixed. Season to taste with salt. Cool in refrigerator. Simply Recipes